A team led by Dr. Pankaj Agarwal, Senior Consultant Neurologist, Head – Movement Disorders Clinic and In-Charge, DBS program, Global Hospital, Mumbai, saved the life of a 49-year-old woman who fought Covid successfully, but later had Guillian Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare but serious neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own nerves. The major manifestations of COVID-19 are pulmonary. Nevertheless, neurological conditions may arise as a complication of this disease. The patient was discharged on 26th October 2020.
Mrs. Madhavi Dhariya, a 49-year-old resident of Mahad, Raigad was infected with Coronavirus. The patient and her husband were treated at home and had mild symptoms that recovered soon. 3 weeks later, she started experiencing backache and consulted an orthopedic surgeon who gave her medication. A few days day later, she had paralysis of one side her of face, and clumsiness of her legs with difficulty walking. Her family doctor suggested taking prompt treatment. Hence, the patient was referred to Global Hospital Mumbai.
Dr. Pankaj Agarwal, Senior Consultant Neurologist, Head – Movement Disorders Clinic and In-Charge – DBS program, Global Hospital, Mumbai said “The patient came to the Emergency in a wheelchair with difficulty walking, facial weakness for 3 days, left lower limb clumsiness, and slurred speech. She couldn’t walk or form a grip with her hands and even needed help to remove her face mask. Based on history and examination, a clinical neurological diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) was made, that was later confirmed with tests including a nerve conduction study and lumbar puncture.”
GBS is an autoimmune disorder in which our body’s own immune system goes in overdrive and starts mistakenly attacking the nerves of our hands and legs, leading to sudden paralysis. GBS can be triggered by any viral infection, either respiratory or gastrointestinal. People may go from normal to a paralyzed state in a matter of 2-3 days- and in severe cases, breathing can be affected needing ventilatory support.
Dr. Agarwal added, “With timely diagnosis and immune-modulatory treatment (standard 5-day injection course of immunoglobulins), she started improving every day and fortunately was able to walk home after 10 days.”
COVID-19 could lead to Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) in rare cases. “This disease affects many more organs beyond the lungs, including the brain, the heart, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal tract. In India, while case series have not been published yet, the number of post-covid GBS cases may be increasing. In Global Hospital, we have already treated 3 such cases in the last 4 months, all with complete recovery. Our Neurology colleagues across Mumbai have collectively reported at least 25 cases to date.” said Dr. Agarwal.
Dr. Vivek Talaulikar, CEO- Global Hospital, Mumbai said, “Involvement of lungs by the SARS-COV-2 virus is commonly known, one of the more insidious ways the virus affects the human body is the effect on the brain. What is important is prompt diagnosis and timely treatment. These days we are noticing an increasing number of patients presenting with neurological and cardiac complaints in our A&E and would advise patients not to neglect and consult their doctor for prompt and immediate management”.
“I had facial paralysis which was one of the side-effects of Covid. Even though my MRI and CT scan were normal, a prompt diagnosis by Dr. Agarwal saved my life. I thank the doctor for helping me walk again as I had almost thought that I would not be able to walk again due to leg weakness. Also, I urge everyone not to ignore the early symptoms and seek for doctor’s advice on time so that a proper diagnosis can be done. With my personal experience, I can say that timely treatment has helped my fast recovery. The post-COVID neuro problems are quite common but it is treatable if we reach out to the specialized doctor in time”, concluded Mrs. Dhariya.